Archivists and Records Managers, part 6

The fourth chapter in T.R. Schellenberg’s Modern Archives: Principles & Techniques (first published in 1956) is entitled “Archival Interests in Records Management.”  He approached the topic from the viewpoint of public records and had this to say about the intersections between records management and archival records:

“Public records are the grist of the archivist’s mill.  The quality of this grist is determined by the way records are produced while in current use, and by the way records are disposed of” (26).

Archivists and Records Managers, part 5

At the 1958 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, LeRoy DuPuy read a paper entitled “Archivists and Records Managers – A Partnership.”  While acknowledging disagreements between the professionals, he asserted each could be made better through cooperation.

“If this emphasis on differences is pursued with vigor, the entire profession will be the loser; and the entire profession will bear responsibility for the loss. The administration of records, reasonably defined (as in the approach of the National Archives and Records Service), is indivisible. Each part of it depends largely upon every other part. Take away one — records management — from its relationship to the other — archives administration — and you remove a vital link. Combine the two branches and you present a united front whose total impact toward professional betterment is many times greater than the sum of efforts separately pursued.”

Archives*RM Testimonial #4

This testimonial about the intersections of archives and records management comes from Jenna Cooper, Records Analyst at the Austin History Center.

Bridging the gap between records managers and archivists is critical to preserving the historical record. It seems so obvious, right? However, the two professions are continually siloed from each other academically and logistically. When records managers and archivists aren’t on the same page, it’s so easy for historically significant materials to slip through the cracks, especially the records of non-executive or managerial individuals. We are all records custodians in the end and should put working together at the forefront of our initiatives. That is my goal in my current position as the Records Analyst for a public library department who also arranges transfers and appraisals of municipal records to the City archives (another library branch). Even presenting to departmental records management teams about the value of their own records to posterity inspires folks to be better stewards of their active records. Moreover, communication motivates people to be forthcoming in ensuring materials are promptly ushered into the archives, instead of being lost to desk dumps or indefinite long-term storage in Iron Mountain.

Archivists and Records Managers, part 4

Last week, we looked at a paper presented by Philip C. Brooks at the 1942 Society of American Archivists annual meeting.  The third paper presented in that series was by Robert H. Bahmer, who also worked at the National Archives and would go on in the 1960s to be both SAA president and Archivist of the United States.  Bahmer’s paper was entitled “Scheduling the Disposition of Records.”  He made a simple assertion:

“Few greater dangers threaten the comparatively small quantity of valuable records that accumulate in government offices than the intermingling with them of huge quantities of routine and valueless material; if the important records are not actually lost in the confusion, they stand a good chance of being buried so deeply that the task of the archivist who must appraise and administer them is made doubly difficult if not impossible.”

Archivists and Records Managers, part 3

At the 1942 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, held in Richmond, Virginia, Philip C. Brooks read a paper entitled “Current Aspects of Records Administration: The Archivist’s Concern in Records Administration.”  Brooks served as the first secretary of SAA (1936-1942) and would later be president (1949-1951).  He worked at the National Archives.  He concluded this talk with an analysis of the connections  between records management and archival work:

“It is inevitable that the iniquity of omitting care for records as they accumulate shall be visited upon the third and fourth generations of later administrators, archivists, research students, and society as a whole.”

Archives*RM Testimonial #3

For this installment about the intersections between archivists and records managers, we have a perspective from the business world:

I work for a southeast bank. Upon needing to vacate a building as the lease was ending, we explored the “archives” of the bank. As an archivist by training and records manager by profession this was my dream. We had twenty library style shelves full of stuff – everything from late 1800s bank ledgers and corporate china to newspaper clippings. This was the perfect opportunity to put my RIM and archives skills to the test. Over the course of two days, myself and the corporate librarian took a big bucket records management approach to clean up much of the paper materials. Anything that looked unique or archival we set aside for later assessment. Using the corporate retention schedule we were able to determine much of the paperwork could be trashed. The very unique corporate paintings and old ledgers were donated to the state library so their beauty and worth could be fully utilized. Without records management practices, two days could have easily turned into weeks of work. And without archival principles, much of the gorgeous materials we were able to donate would have been moved to another dusty room and never used.

Shannon Wood

Records Governance Manager

Archivists and Records Managers, part 2

Last week, I looked at the presidential address of Wayne Grover in 1954.  He was succeeded as SAA President by Morris Radoff, state archivist of Maryland.  In his 1955 presidential address, Radoff also considered the tensions between archivists and the emerging field of records managers.  In reflection on professional education in particular, he concluded:

“But above all, we should strive to give our profession the dignity, the unity, the opportunity for service that can come only from the mastery of a body of learning.  And this body of learning should by all means include the whole art and mystery of records.  This surely will bind us together.”